Monday, September 29, 2014

Do Good. Do Better. Do the Best You Can.

Hey Ya'll!

Holy talito there is so much to talk about and again so little
time...or just poorly managed time. Hey, I'm learning! We had a sweet
baptism with Immanuel Jardiah yesterday, 9 years old, baptized by his
grandpa. He showed up to church in his little suit vest just beaming
in excitement. He was baptized with another convert from the Philly
1st central area named Paye. It was a good service.

Elder Roberts was not feeling well at all on Friday, so we stayed in
for some of the day on Saturday, he must have had the flu. And we've
been working day in and day out, so it was probably good for both of
us to take a little breather. A highlight of the week was going to
visit a less active/investigator/we don't know his membership status
named John Tor. He waved at us from the street and called out for us
to come over. He asked us to come visit him at his house. So we set up
an appt and this past week we went with Elder and Sister Wrigley to
see him.

In high school, I took a class called AP (ooo big shot!) Comparative
Gov't and Politics. Now discontinued I believe, but it opened my eyes
to a lot of ills and evils of the world. So many atrocities happening
throughout the world to innocent people. And I had seen videos and
what not in that class of war torn countries in Africa. But here I
was, sitting in front of and hearing a first hand account of a humble
man born and raised in the war ravaged country of Sudan. He became a
child soldier and at the young age of 10 he learned to shoot an
AK-47....ummm I didn't know what that was until like 3 years ago...k a
little exaggeration. But still. He was in charge of taking the lives
of the enemy. So of course he saw horrific things that he's never been
able to get out of his mind.

Elder Wrigley felt inspired to ask him if he'd like a Priesthood
blessing and he gladly accepted. As we laid our hands on his head and
pronounced a blessing of healing and comfort to help him get over his
PTSD, I felt the Spirit and the power of God flow through us. It was a
powerful moment and we soon thereafter testified of the Savior's
unfailing love and of the healing power of His Atonement. I felt and I
think we all did compassion upon this man, no older than 30, but with
the life experiences many would scarcely even think about in the
comfort of their lovely American homes.

I feel it is overlooked how truly blessed we are to be in this
country. Being here in Philadelphia has given me a greater
appreciation for the blessings of God that went into making America
what it could be. Sure the country's got it's issues. "Inasmuch as ye
keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land." Not everyone is
keeping the commandments. But look at all these humble people who have
been guided by the hand of God to this country where God knew they
would have the opportunity to hear and would indeed accept this
restored gospel. Agatha, Francis, Immanuel's family, John Tor, I don't
think we're working with more than 2 people who have in some way or
another been guided to this land to hopefully, one day, return home to
that God who gave them life.

This work is all about Christ. Really, that's all it is. Christ and
His Atonement. and ohhh how it is changing lives. Oh how it is
preparing us for eternity. This plan is beautiful. As we sat in
meetings with the Stake and Mission presidencies, I thought about the
purpose of leaders coming together. And I remembered something an
Apostle said. The purpose of every meeting in the church should be to
help people come unto Christ and to change lives.

We sat down with our investigator Vincent, very interesting man with
good questions and a sincere desire to know the truth. He came up with
a motto of "Do Good. Do Better. Do the Best You Can." Meaning that we
all have troubles and trials in life. Day in and day out if we work at
those things, especially with God on our side, it can all be made
right. I think of little kids. So innocent and pure Christ taught in 3
Nephi 17 to Behold your little ones. I know they carry a power and
example that we can all learn from. I was able to feel a bit of that
working with Immanuel. Love you all. Do the Best you can. I promise it
will all work out.

Elder Jacob Robins

Little Immanuel Jardiah was baptized at age 9 by his grandpa Isaac. He was all smiles!!

Temple Construction update..we went to the site on P-day last week. It's incredible how just the surrounding area has a powerful Spirit already. I don't think I'll be able to say I've seen sparks flying all over the place in a temple again!
Elder Roberts and I in front of the Moroni statue end of the temple. They are just beginning to put the exterior granite on the completed walls. Plumbing and electric is being worked on inside. Elder Carr, temple Site supervisor, handed me a chunk of rock that was blasted out of the foundation where the temple now lies. I think it was solid granite with some pretty black shiny stuff in it. Grandpa Hagen would love it!!

the general placement of the temple is pretty incredible. Right across the Street from the Catholic St. Peter's Basilica. Where the visitor's center and construction trailers now sit is where the new Philadelphia Stake Center will be built, apparently they will start construction on that next month. So many good things happening to this city!

My Marine Corps Reserve Companion's bed...yes you can bounce a quarter on it. I attempted to make mine the same way for about a week...ha that was a joke.

Monday, September 22, 2014

I love the Little Things

Dear Family and Friends!

I'm physically tired and often exhausted with not a spare moment to Rest, there are souls to save and people to love. I found several times this week however, that my body was telling me in its own ways, to take care of itself and perhaps slow down a tad. Saturday I woke up with the feeling that it would be a physically tough day. Just felt a little slower. My muscles were sore, and by the end of the day I had a throbbing migraine. But I felt the Lords strength to keep going and  We had some great spiritual experiences with investigators and members. 

One such was with a girl named Didi and her mom Kou. Didi is 16 and they're active in their fellowship church, but she wanted to learn more about the Book of Mormon. The Spirit was strong as we testified of God's eternal plan for us. I love talking about families and how God wants all of us to come back home to Him. How hard it must be for Him to see some of His children choose otherwise, believing their own worldly way to happiness is best. So it is refreshing to meet those who DO want to know about their creator's grand design. 

I had the opportunity to go on two exchanges this week with Elder Pintor first in our area. He is from Las Vegas and is just a solid missionary with a great work ethic. A lot of missionaries, myself included, assume he's a spanish elder because he's Hispanic looking...but he's not! We had a good day and I learned a lot about the importance of diligence. It's interesting to note, but when we are striving to develop Christlike attributes such as Charity, or humility, they actually requires the driving force of diligence to be acquired. For example, Francis Sayeh, baptized last week had lost contact with the missionaries for a few weeks before I got in the area. But something kept gnawing at him inside, and when he met with them again he diligently put forth the effort to make a change in his life and move forward in his progression in the gospel. He read his scriptures, he came to church with the Davis family or the Mooney family. He prayed and he committed to a solid baptismal date. I cannot express in words how incredible it is to witness the miraculous changes that take place in the lives of others that we work with. Francis is still just beaming with joy. He wasn't able to get confirmed with Agatha yesterday because he threw out his back and was in excruciating pain. Sounds like someone I know...not to be snarky..hehe. Love Ya dad! But Bishop Ard is well aware of Francis and his pure and wonderful desires to get into family history. I don't know what it is, but he Spirit of Elijah just has him drawn in and you'll hear him say he feels like that's his calling in life. He can't wait to get to the temple to perform baptisms for the dead. And he's telling his friends on Facebook about his baptism. These people are just so solid! I don't know what to do! 

Agatha was overcome with joy and the Holy Ghost as she was confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints yesterday. Another sister with whom she had become friends the day before, leaned over right after and congratulated her on this important step in her life. Agatha too is just radiating light and truth. She is excited to teach gospel principles in the coming weeks. 

On Thursday and Friday elder Roberts and I went to the South Philly district meeting. The church building is right on Broad St in Philly, but it's the 2nd floor of a Tax Income office/business building, so it's just an interesting locale. But during the district meeting, we did a conference call with the other districts in the zone about MUSIC. This can often be a sensitive subject and one which President Anderson has emphasized the importance of dealing with in a spirit of humility. The reason being, the rules in the White Handbook are clear, but vague at the same time. It doesn't say only MoTab and EFY music. Heavens no. We ALL might go nuts. But when we're preparing for sacred experiences like going to the temple, or going to take the Sacrament or making a big decision in life, listening to loud and invasive music is not going to invite the Spirit of revelation into our lives. I've experienced that here on the mission, sure it may be a good "pump up" but these people need to learn heaven and how to get there. Would it not make sense that we should act and live in such a way that WE will learn heaven too? 

I just paraphrased from Brad Wilcox's talk His Grace Is Sufficient. If you haven't read it, please do, search it on Thanks to Uncle Dan for introducing me to that talk in a Priest Quorum lesson before the mission. I found that Christ's grace  is sufficient to transform us. After that district meeting (boy am I good at mile long tangents!) I went on exchanges in South Philly with Elder Pead, from St. George. He goes home in about 3 months, but didn't seem to be trunky! This kid has a heart of gold.  The first thing he said was how excited he was for the exchange. We've had a few of the same companions, but other than that our conversations just came naturally and we got along well. He covers independence hall and Liberty Bell and that area. We also walked by the Jewish synagogue where Joseph Smith preached in centuries ago. This city has so much history, I can't keep track of it all. So I just get lost in the work instead. I had the sacred privilege to minister to Elder Pead and i think we both grew from experiences we had on the exchange. I saw in ways that I could never have imagined, the Lord opening my heart towards other missionaries and His other children in general. 

What is it that makes Charity feel so good inside!?!? I just Love it! I can't get enough of it. I love the little kids we're working with, including Immanuel who is ready to also become a member soon! It is not easy teaching younger kids because of their shorter attention spans, and we have to adapt to their level of understanding. 

There's a song, and sorry this is pretty choppy today, called The Little Things on the ldsyouth website that has hit home. It's the little things from day to day that show me God still loves us, He loves you and the people I'm teaching. We come out of an appt and reach a trolley just in time to get to our next appt. or remembering to pack a granola bar which, with a bottle of Powerade becomes dinner for the night. Or my companion making me French toast in the morning or finding a $10 bill on  the ground...yes that did happen! And these are all seemingly insignificant things, but I can already see how recognizing the little things and the hand of God, leads to a lifetime of gratitude and happiness. 

I think of the scripture that says "6 Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise...And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls." (Alma 37:6-7)

I love that even though I may not see all the effects my words or actions have on people, by those small and simple things and through the grace of Christ, I know without a doubt that good has been done. And in the long run I would bet those small little things will add up to a life or two changed for the better. I love you all and hope you are all well.


Elder Jacob Robins

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Here are the Waters of Mormon"

Hi Everyone!

I hope this finds you all happy and well! Elder Roberts and I have had
a good time here and there are so many miracles happening as The Lord
pours out His Spirit on this area. I feel it just thinking of the
majestic temple going up in Center City right off vine St expressway.
When we contact people on the streets we'll often tell them about the
temple and why we build them. Then before parting, we'll introduce
ourselves and haha the funny thing is that every area since now I've
gotten called Elder Roberts because people either don't hear the
pronunciation, don't look at my name tag, don't care, or a
combination. But they can't get away with that now! They actually have
to say my real last name, which is hard for some. So I've just been
telling people to call us "erts" and "ins." Hopefully that clears some

This weekend we had a powerful stake conference which was right after
a Mission Tour with Elder Wilford W. Andersen of the 70. So it's been
a crazy week and on top of that we had Agatha and Frances' baptisms
and an exchange or two in between. Gahh! But it's been great and I've
been spiritually fed. We went on exchanges on Tuesday and I was with
Elder Castro from Pocatello, ID. He's 4 weeks into the field so I did
the whole, "Hey Elder, how far away do you think that plane is?" When
I got into the field I said, oh about a mile or two. But he responded,
"good one! My trainer did that to me like my second day!" "You've only
got about 23 months, no worries!" Ha, mean I know. Pay it forward
right. A week or two ago I saw something green on the sidewalk then my
jaw dropped as I realized it was a $20!!! No one would just walk by a
20...but I picked it up, all proud of my miraculous find just to flip
it over and find that the back side was cruel. I looked up
and saw the culprits and had a good laugh with them about it. Probably
put in on YouTube by now.

We stayed with the assistants Wednesday night and woke up before the
crack of Dawn to be at the church for mission leadership council. It
was a rather sacred experience having that more intimate time with a
church leader, where we could have some Q & A back and forth. We
learned a lot about Christlike leadership and again I was impressed
with the need to LOVE. It's not easy sometimes, easy to make
unnecessary judgements. I had the chance to accompany for 2 musical
numbers and play the organ for our session of the mission tour.

Elder Roberts took the ACT at Upper Darby high school on Saturday, fun
fact, Tina Fey graduated from that high school. Claim to fame. I
waited outside on a bench and attempted to study, but it turned into a
half study half nap...Stake conference adult session was later that
night. We were asked to train a little bit at a break out session of
the earlier priesthood leadership meeting. It was a great learning
experience for each of us.

I have felt bad that we have been having trouble keeping track of the
people we're working with. I'll tell you one thing though, there have
been a plethora of prepared people meeting us and others ready to
covenant with their Heavenly Father. One such man named Ruichuan met
with missionaries while at UCLA and has since read through almost the
entire Book of Mormon. He went to institute frequently there and
church weekly and has just a burning testimony of the truth. He's here
from Hong Kong going to school at U Penn. We met with him on Friday
and he shared some very real concerns with us. His wife had a negative
experience with some sisters in CA and has since gone pretty much
anti. They get in an argument even when we call him or when he came to
church. It's sad and people have their agency, but the last thing we
want to do is tear apart a marriage. So in a situation like that, we
can really only email him and hope that her heart is softened in time
and of course, pray.

At stake conference, I sat next to Frances and after the opening hymn
which was " You can make the Pathway Bright" he leans over to me and
says in his awesome west African accent, That was super awesome! He
was just smiling after happily singing the song in his very low
contrabass voice. Agatha was also just beaming with joy. And Stake
President Coe mentioned that in our Sunday session of stake conference
the chapter of Mosiah 18 was mentioned 3+ times. He welcomed all who
would be joining the fold soon, so I thought it was very fitting for
Frances and Agatha's special day. Oh how I love them they were so
prepared to make those covenants, Frances loves family history and has
been asking for a calling in it. They understand Christ's commission
to serve others.
8 "And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the
waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are
desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people,
and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be
light;...and mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that
stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all
times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even
until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with
those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life"
Mosiah 18:8-9

I know Frances and Agatha understand the truth. We have a loving
Heavenly Father who wants us all to return back to Him. They
understand that Christ and His restored gospel is the ONLY way this is
possible. Strait is the gate and narrow is the way which leads to
eternal life. I'm so happy that these two precious souls have taken
that step of faith onto the eternal path back to God. I was filled
with the Spirit as I baptized Agatha and hugged her and Frances as
they both said they felt good and clean and ready to serve. This work
is true.

Love you all,

Elder Jake Robins

Monday, September 8, 2014

Oh Thou Who Changest NOT

Hey Everyone!

Oh boy it has been a whirlwind of a week and people and the world
around us seems to be changing and at times falling apart. I keep
thinking of Helaman's words to his sons Nephi and Lehi, "It is upon
the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must
build your foundation...a foundation whereon, if men build, they
CANNOT fall." Helaman 5:12. I've found it doesn't matter if I'm in the
Styx of Smyrna or urban Philadelphia, we as humans are all subject to
temptation and the "fiery darts of the adversary." I was talking to
Elder Roberts earlier about how we wish we could somehow just show
these people we meet a short video clip of who they were in the
pre-existence. I would bet it would have a nearly immeasurable effect
on the choices they make each day. But we can't do that, so...

Each day I'm more and more grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ in
my life. It keeps me strong even when life throws it's curveballs.
Elder Roberts and I just finished visiting an Elder in our Zone who is
in the hospital right now for pancreatitis. It's kinda worrisome
having a fellow missionary sick and in the hospital! But he is
improving, just in a bit of pain, and he'll be in there for a few
days. I've loved the opportunity to get to know and work with the
other missionaries. We had Zone Training on Thursday and it was a
spiritual feast. Elder and Sister Wrigley trained on recognizing the
Spirit and seeking the gift of discernment in teaching and finding as
missionaries. Because we are human and don't have super powers to
understand every issue or internal conflict that each of the
individuals we work with may be struggling much as I wish I
was superman or Mr. Incredible or someone, I have an even better gift.
The Holy Ghost.

When we knocked on Raheem's (20 year old man whom we met buying
Agatha's chicken kebabs) door, I was quickly disappointed when after 3
or 4 knocks and a phone call, he didn't answer the door. Just as I was
turning around, I cynically assumed that he just wasn't ready for our
message when all the sudden he opened the door and exclaimed, "I just
had the feeling like someone was telling me to answer the door." We
were amazed with our jaws dropped and everything. As we taught him and
talked about the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel, the
Spirit moved upon him. I've seen this numerous times where we say
things that we don't necessarily intend to touch he lives of others,
but it ends up working out that way.

Agatha and Frances are preparing well and so excited to become members
of the church. The Lord is pouring out His Spirit on these people and
it's amazing to see that even in a city with 5 million + people! we
are able to find the elect and help them get on the path to eternal
life. As I've spent some time in the city (a whoppin' 3 weeks...look
at me!) I look around and see countless people searching for
happiness. Some find it in music, some find it through methods that
the world has offered that really only bring momentary pleasure. But
not lasting happiness. Some, like Agatha, or our 9 year old Emmanuel
Jardiah find it in the truth. Reading scriptures, going to church, the
Sunday school answers. But it's he small and simple things that these
people do that bring them the true happiness the rest of the world is
so desperately looking for. I really love love love these people and
am seeking to be more charitable with everyone. But what helps me love
them the most is those sacred spiritual experiences that we have

The Assistants doubled in on Saturday night for a few hours and even
they have flaws, but I've come to realize that one universal trait of
all successful missionaries (success as Preach My Gospel defines it in
chapter 1) is that of Love. Now you may differ in opinion, but the
whole reason for this plan, the whole reason I'm out here now is LOVE.
Love for my God, love for my Savior and love for the beautiful hearts
and people we work with. In a world that seems to change it's morals
and values every day to be more politically correct or to be in line
with the times, I find peace in the lyrics of the song Abide With Me.
"Change and decay in all around I see; oh Thou who Changest NOT, abide
with me!" I promise that Christ is the ONLY way. I'm not ashamed to
proclaim that anymore. And I'm ecstatic for those who are accepting it
here! I love you all and pray for you often. Let Him abide with you.


Elder Jacob Robins

Almost touching the Liberty Bell!! I just wanted to hear it ring...maybe another time.

Me standing in the very room where the Lord poured out His Spirit upon our Founding Fathers to create this great nation. There was a definite Spirit in the room and I felt the Lord knew what He was doing in preparing the earth for the Restoration of the Gospel.

The very chair that George Washington himself sat in and stood in front of. The orignial chair itself has a small sun on the top and when things started to come together, Ben Franklin commented that it was a Rising Sun, rather than a setting sun. AKA the American Revolution had been a success!

Me and Elder Roberts in front of Independence Hall...where it all began.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Eternal Round

Dear Family and Friends,

Holy Hot it has been soo humid this week, I feel like I've been
swimming all week. I've wanted to call President and just be like, Hey
we're already swimming in sweat, can we just jump in a pool?...but
rules are rules. Ha. Besides that it has been an incredible week. For
some reason the weeks here have been crawling, but our days are just
packed, which is good.

On Wednesday I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with Elder
Madsen who came out the same time as me. We were actually comps in the
MTC for a day. He's a great Elder with a good heart, and I learned
more from him than I could or should write. Almost all of the plans he
had made for the day fell through, but he made a poignant comment that
I hadn't really thought of before. "It seems that when exchanges fall
through, God puts us together because there's something we need to
teach each other."

One of the biggest things I came to understand that the course of
God's plan for us is all one eternal round as mentioned in 1 Nephi
10:19. Everyone we work with is at a different stage in their eternal
progression. Agatha took 42 years to get to the point where she is
willing to accept and live all of Gods commandments. Others we meet on
the street are still being prepared but are wonderful. I hate to cut
it so short, but I've got a meeting with the Bishop and missionaries
tonight. We have 3 companionships and a senior couple in the ward and
it's been so much fun. I pray that we will all have the perspective to
see that God wants ALL of His children to return home to Him. Whether
or not they believe in Him, He wants them home. I know this to be true
and will work as hard as I can to help God do exactly that.

Love you all, have a fantastic week.

Elder Jake Robins

Y'all know Im an organ nerd. Well I don't think it's any coincidence that God put me in the mission with the two largest pipe organs in the world. And one was in my area, the other is in my zone! And I got to see and hear it today! Such a nerd, sorry for those of you who just don't care haha.
City Hall, the largest city hall building in the world apparently. and the largest building whose interior walls are not load bearing. 

The Wanamaker Organ has 29,000 pipes, about 4,000 fewer than the huge organ I saw in Atlantic City. But this organ is the largest fully working organ in the world. And it has just about all the bells and whistles you could imagine. We heard the recital at 12 pm and our jaws were open. Talked to the organist and said he knew Richard Elliott from MoTab...and that he had played this very organ several times. 

Little plaque about the Organ

Had to stop and get an original pretzel from the city where pretzels were invented!